Amiens is a city and commune in northern France, 120 km (75 mi) north of Paris and 100 km (62 mi) south-west of Lille. It is the capital of the Somme department in Picardy.
During the 5th century, Chlodio rose to power among the Franks, and Merovech was elected in Amiens by his comrades in arms. Saint Honorius (Honoré) (d. 600 AD) became the seventh bishop of the city. Normans sacked the city 859 and again in 882. During the second sacking, the city's cathedral was burned. During the early part of the 10th century, Count Herbert de Vermandois united the regions of Amiens, Vexin, Laon, and Reims. In 1095, the people of Amiens began to form a rough municipal organization. In 1113 the city was recognized by the King of France; the city was joined to the Crown of France in 1185.
In 1264, Amiens was chosen as the seat of arbitrations when King Louis IX of France settled the conflict between King Henry III of England and his rebellious barons, led by Simon de Montfort. The arbitrations led to Louis deciding on the Mise of Amiens – a one-sided settlement in favor of Henry. This decision almost immediately led to the outbreak of the Barons' War.
In 1435 the city was among the possessions granted to Philip the Good of Burgundy by the Congress of Arras. It was re-acquired again by King Louis XI in 1477 after the death of Charles the Bold. In 1597, Spanish soldiers disguised as peasants entered the city and mounted a surprise attack. After the six month Siege of Amiens, the forces of Henry IV regained control of the city and put an end to its autonomous rule.
During the 18th and 19th century, the textile tradition of Amiens became famous for its velours. The Cosserat family rose to prominence as one of the wealthiest of Amiens' textile manufacturing families. In 1789 the provinces of France were dismantled and the territory was organised into departments. Much of Picardy became the newly-created department of Somme, with Amiens as the departmental capital.
During the 19th century, Amiens began to feel the effects of the industrial revolution. The city walls were demolished, opening up space for large boulevards around the town centre. The Henriville neighborhood in the south of the city was developed around this time. In 1848, the first railway arrived in Amiens, linking the city to Boulogne-sur-Mer. After this time, the city began to grow beyond the river and into the surrounding hills. During the 1870 Franco-Prussian War, Somme was invaded by Prussian forces and Amiens was occupied.
|Maison de Jules Verne|
Beginning in 1905, Victor Commont, called "the founding father of modern Prehistoric science," performed important archaeological work in the Picardy area.
Amiens was one of the key objectives of the German Spring Offensive which was launched on 27 March 1918. The German 2nd Army pushed back the British 5th Army, who fought a series of defensive actions. Eventually, on 4 April, the Germans succeeded in capturing Villers-Bretonneux which overlooked Amiens, only for it to be retaken by an Australian counterattack that night. During the fighting, Amiens was bombarded by German artillery and aircraft; more than 2,000 buildings were destroyed. On 8 August 1918, a successful Allied counter stroke, the Battle of Amiens, was the opening phase of the Hundred Days Offensive, which led directly to the Armistice with Germany that ended the war.
On 18 February 1944, British aircraft bombed the prison in Amiens as part of Operation Jericho. The raid was intended to aid the escape of members of the French Resistance and political prisoners being held there. In all, 258 prisoners escaped.
Prior to the Normandy landings, Allied aircraft concentrated on disabling communications in occupied France, and the railway junction at Longueau to the south east of Amiens was attacked by 200 Royal Air Force bombers on the night of the 12 and 13 June. There was much damage in the town itself. Amiens was liberated on 31 August 1944 by the 11th Armoured Division, part of 30th Corps commanded by Lieutenant-General Horrocks.
On 2 June 1960, the new region of Picardy was formed from the departments of Aisne, Oise and Somme. In May 1968, students in Amiens joined in a large-scale strike that began in Paris. Factory and the railway workers in the city joined them a few days later. Amiens was paralyzed by fighting between conservatives and leftist groups. After President Charles de Gaulle's radio address on 31 May, his supporters demonstrated in the streets. The following October, the University of Amiens (Université d'Amiens) was founded on a campus in the southwestern suburbs of the city.
The city suffered the loss of many jobs as manufacturing plants in the region closed during the late 1970s and 1980s. Despite the hardships, the city made an effort to renovate the degraded area of St-Leu during this time.
The 1990s saw a great period of rebirth in the city. The St-Leu renovations were completed, and parts of the University were moved to the city center. The Vallée des Vignes neighborhood was developed in the south of the city, and large parts of the city center were converted to pedestrian areas. The Gare du Nord was renovated with a controversial new glass roof. The Tour Perret was renovated as well and a new cinema complex was built. The area around the train station began a reorganization.
- The Cathedral of Our Lady of Amiens, or simply Amiens Cathedral, is a Roman Catholic cathedral and seat of the Bishop of Amiens. It is situated on a slight ridge overlooking the River Somme. The cathedral is the tallest complete cathedral in France, its stone-vaulted nave reaching a height of 42.30 metres (138.8 ft) (surpassed only by the incomplete Beauvais Cathedral). It also has the greatest interior volume of any French cathedral, estimated at 200,000 cubic metres (260,000 cu yd). The cathedral was built between 1220 and c.1270 and has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1981. Although it has lost most of its original stained glass, Amiens Cathedral is renowned for the quality and quantity of early 13th century Gothic sculpture in the main west facade and the south transept portal, and a large quantity of polychrome sculpture from later periods inside the building.
- The Musée de Picardie is the main museum of Amiens and Picardy, at 48, rue de la République. Its collections stretch from prehistory to the 19th century and form one of the largest regional museums in France. Its building was purpose-built for a regional museum (one of France's first such buildings) between 1855 and 1867. The architects were Henri Parent and Arthur-Stanislas Diet. It was built thanks to militant action by the Société des Antiquaires de Picardie, keen to give the city somewhere to house the collections the society had gathered over decades.
- The Municipal Circus, also known as the "Cirque Jules Verne", is one of the few remaining permanent circuses (in French: "Cirque en dur") in the world, one of seven in France and is still in use today. Originally built from timber it is now a stone structure.
- Jules Verne's House. After major renovation works, the "House with the Tower" in Amiens, where Jules Verne lived from 1882 to 1900, once again offers visitors a space where the imaginary world and the daily life of the famous writer mix. This luxury 19th century mansion house witnessed the success of the writer, who wrote most of his "Extraordinary Voyages" there. Both imposing and modest, on four levels and through over 700 objects in the Amiens Metropole collection, the house reveals the personality, sources of inspiration and memories of Jules Verne. From the conservatory to the attic, relive the adventures of his heroes: Michel Strogoff, Phileas Fogg, Captain Nemo, etc.
- Citadelle de Doullens. The only currently standing Renaissance citadel, this is a masterpiece of military architecture from the end of the Middle Ages. It was especially created to be used by the growing artillery and served as a model for future Vauban citadels. It has conserved its remarkable sandstone ramparts, its circular galleries and its shooting chambers.